“What we love, we grow to resemble.”
They say you are what you eat, but this quote by St. Bernard, whose feast we celebrated yesterday, points to the more accurate assertion that we are what we love. You can look at someone and the way they carry themselves and what they strive for, and it will give you a pretty good idea of what they hold dear and see as important in their lives. If someone loves money, fame and riches, you’ll notice that they constantly talk, think about, and work toward getting more promotions, making sure people see them and know who they are, and getting that monetary raise, just to name a few examples. And they will keep growing in the love of these things as long as they remain the only thing that the person knows.
But people who love God and want what is good for themselves and others will begin to resemble Him and His charity, giving of themselves to others for the sake of the common good and the eternal Kingdom. They will understand the virtues needed and work to acquire them in order to spread the love and goodness of God to others. They will always put others ahead of themselves and grow more and more, by the grace of God, into the likeness of Jesus Christ, Whom they love.
We are desperately in need of more people like the latter today. We see far too many examples of people in love with what the world has to offer and wanting to grow in these temporal riches instead of storing riches for themselves in heaven. As Fr. Leo Clifford, a Franciscan whose talks are featured on EWTN, says “We fall in love with the gifts, but we forget the Giver.” Women want to take control of their lives and have a career and social status without the “disturbance” of a child, so they abort their babies. In the case of women who are pressured, this applies to the abortion industry. They want women to believe that they must get rid of their child to gain these things for their own monetary gain. People who are attracted to others of the same sex either don’t know or purposely disregard God’s teaching on human sexuality and marriage for their own pleasure and gratification. People like these love themselves and their own wants and desires, so that’s what they grow to resemble.
We also see this with our country as a whole today. We have wandered so far from our founding fathers’ values that the country was built on because people started wanting things their own way instead of the way God intended them to be. And it’s only going to get worse (a lot worse) if people, especially in our government, don’t undergo a transformation that leads them to resemble these founding values and the One who guided the founding fathers to instill them. But, in order for this to happen, they’re going to need guidance. And the guidance needs to start from within.
This is where it leads back to us. We can lead the people who have gone astray to strive to resemble Who we ourselves love. But obviously, this presupposes that we already strive and have begun to resemble Him. That means that we need to take a long, hard look at ourselves. What are our likes and dislikes? What are our goals? How do we act with others, especially if they are being annoying or rude to us? Finding the answers to these questions will help us realize who or what we really love or find important. Are we loving the grudge we hold against someone? Are we loving our feelings of pride or envy? If we love these things instead of disciplining ourselves and uprooting them, we will begin to resemble them instead of resembling the One we claim to love, Jesus Christ.
Studying the life of Jesus will of course also help us to love and resemble Him. Read Scripture. Meditate on His words and what He did. And of course, if we really want to love Him, we have to understand and love what His Church teaches. Read the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Reading and understanding what the Church teaches will help you understand more about what God wants from us. Once we know and understand these things, we are better equipped to go out into the world and teach others how to resemble Christ, the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
Change is possible, but it starts with us. Let’s learn to truly love and resemble Him Whom we love, and what we radiate from resembling Him will start to affect others. In this way, we can change the world.